Over 700 receive degrees during UTB’s first commencement since split - Brownsville Herald: News

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Over 700 receive degrees during UTB’s first commencement since split

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Posted: Saturday, December 14, 2013 9:55 pm

The plan was originally to graduate together, but twin brothers Mauricio and Mario Munoz had no complaints Saturday as the final member of their family received his degree from the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Graduating from UTB is almost a rite of passage for their family, where several are proud alumni of the school, and Mauricio’s degree in criminal justice added another to the fold.

“I’m the last one in the family,” Mauricio said, noting the degrees his siblings have earned in the past, including one by Mario, who graduated from the nursing program last year. “It took me nine years, but I got it done.”

All across the Student Union Lawn, others celebrated “getting it done,” as well, while congratulatory balloons bobbed in

the breeze and held by proud parents, relatives and friends.

The school’s 19th commencement was the first since the university split off from Texas Southmost College, and 748 candidates received degrees.

Among them was Jesus Pablo Gonzalez of Brownsville, who proudly noted he was a first-generation college graduate.

Friends, family and supporters from church were there to congratulate him after he received his degree in exercise science, he said, but he may not be done with school.

He said he’s eyeing UTB’s graduate school, where he’d like to get a Master’s Degree and go into physical therapy.

Yari Suarez of Laguna Vista said she, too,

is considering getting

her Master’s.

Suarez earned her bachelor’s in criminal justice — the culmination of about a decade of planning.

“I’ve always liked (criminal justice),” she said, noting that she first realized what she wanted to pursue in college while in the 9th grade.

A switch to nursing during her undergraduate career only confirmed that she had been right about her calling as a high school freshman, she explained.

Her father, who flew in from Puerto Rico for the commencement ceremony, and son were both waiting for her after she turned her tassel, but she said it was still hard to believe she had done it.

“It doesn’t feel real,” she said. “I feel like I’ll be back in school on Monday.”

Instead, she said, she’ll take a well-deserved break before she returns to academia, likely at UTB.

Addressing the graduates were commencement speakers Dr. Teri Alarcon, Alexis Andrea Glynes, Bea Lopez-Juarez and John Villareal.

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